Gouache

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Gouache[p](English pronunciation: /ɡuːˈæʃ/; French: [ˈɡwaʃ]), also spelled guache, the name of which derives from the Italian guazzo, water paint, splash or bodycolor (the term preferred by art historians) is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. A binding agent, usually Gum Arabic, is also present, just as in watercolor. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all watermedia, it is diluted with water. (There are examples of gouaches diluted with rainfall [1], as well as very unusual examples with things other than water, such as Coca-Cola[2] and Diet Coke.)[3] This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.[4]

Contents

History

"Guazzo" was originally a term applied to the early 16th century practice of applying oil paint over a tempera base.[5] The term was applied to the watermedia in the 18th century in France, although the technique is considerably older. It was used as early as the 14th century in Europe.

Application

Gouache generally dries to a different value than it appears when wet (lighter tones generally dry darker, while darker tones tend to dry lighter), which can make it difficult to match colors over multiple painting sessions. This, combined with its quick coverage and total hiding power, mean that gouache lends itself to more immediate techniques than watercolor.[6] "En plein air" paintings take advantage of this, as do works of J.M.W. Turner and Victor Lensner. It is used most consistently by commercial artists for works such as posters, illustrations, comics, and for other design work. For example, comics illustrators like Alex Ross use mostly gouache for their work. Industrial Designer and Visual Futurist Syd Mead also works primarily in gouache. Most 20th-century animations used it to create an opaque color on a cel with watercolor paint used for backgrounds, and gouache as "poster paint" is desirable for its speed and durability.

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